You can’t do the wrong thing and expect the right result.
In the process of writing my new book … “Payoff: Clarify Your Purpose, Prove Your Passion, Master the Process, Produce the Payoff” … which will be released later this year … I asked thousands of people what they wanted. Almost everyone gave me one of the following responses: “I just want to be happy” or “I want to be successful.” In other words, they wanted a life and a career that brought them some significant payoffs.
Nothing wrong with that. The trouble is … very few people ever get all the payoffs they want, need, and crave … because they fail to apply a few simple but critical behaviors to their lives and their jobs.
1. Work like an ant.
There’s an old passage that says, “Go to the ant; consider its ways and be wise.” As author Bob Gass writes, “These tiny giants of industry teach us valuable principles for living.” And I would add, they teach us valuable guidelines that ensure our success.
The ant is self-motivated. Nobody has to get it out of bed in the morning or coax it to get moving. Nobody supervises the ant’s work or makes sure he produces a quality product. Nobody needs to micromanage the ant’s time on the job or makes sure it starts punctually, puts in a full day’s work, pulls its weight and doesn’t quit early. The ant is driven by its own high standards, not by rules, regulations, or the fear of being fired.
The ant is organized. There is no haphazard drifting or wandering around aimlessly, looking for something to do. He knows exactly what he has to do. He is goal-directed, focused, and determined.
The ant keeps on working, in good times and bad. While everybody else is complaining about the weather, the economy, the government, or whatever, the ant just keeps preparing for the future.
As therapist Jeff Herring writes in the New Orleans Times-Picayune, “Success and excellence are not that difficult to achieve if you consistently do the necessary things to achieve them.” Just like the ants. The problem is … as Herring continues, “It’s just that most folks are not willing to do the necessary things and are very willing to blame others.”
Basically, you can’t keep a good ant down. If you possess these three ant-like behaviors, more often than not, you will see some significant payoffs in your life and career.
2. Practice honesty.
One poll cited by Paul Harvey stated that 40% of American workers admitted stealing on the job, and 20% felt justified! Their rationalizing included such comments as: “Everybody’s doing it … The boss can afford it; he won’t miss it … It’s only small stuff; it won’t make any difference … The company owes me. I’m just taking what’s mine … or … I deserve it. I’ve worked hard and never been acknowledged.”
I don’t care how you justify it. If you deceive your employer by stealing time and materials, if you deliver an inferior product or service to your customers, you’re stealing. You’re practicing evil, corrupt, wicked, immoral, illegal, unethical behavior, or whatever you want to call it … and perhaps all of the above.
And just for the record, it’s not smart to steal. You can’t do the wrong thing and get the right result. Not only will you have trouble, you’ll bring trouble on those who love and need you the most.
Oh sure, some people seem to get ahead by being dishonest. Instead of getting caught, they made some extra money or gained some extra power. But they brought trouble on themselves … sacrificing their integrity, self-esteem, and peace of mind in the process. They gave up a lot to gain a little.
Of course, most people will get caught sooner or later, in some way or other. An acquaintance of mine just died unexpectedly, and when his final papers were put in order, everyone learned he had embezzled $4 million from his best friends. He thought he could “borrow” the money temporarily and re-pay it when the economy turned around. He didn’t expect to die, and his widow, children, and grandchildren now have to live with the legacy of their husband, father, and grandfather being a crook.
In all my years of research on success, I’ve learned that success never goes on sale. You have to pay full price. Don’t fool yourself into thinking you can get ahead by being dishonest. The job loss, damaged reputation, humiliation, legal costs and consequences are a bill the whole family pays … often times for years and years.
3. Discard laziness.
When the world looks at you and the work you do, the world is not only interested in what you do but also how you do it. And the truth is … your prospects for the future are largely influenced by your work ethic. As Hamilton Holt puts it, “Nothing worthwhile comes easily. Half effort does not produce half results. It produces no results. Work, continuous work and hard work, is the only way to accomplish results that last.”
If your work ethic is a bit sloppy, if you tend to be a bit lazy, you are robbing yourself as surely as a thief who comes to rob you. So be on the lookout for the various ways laziness can sneak into your life.
Do you procrastinate? Lazy people say, “I’ll do it tomorrow,” but tomorrow never comes.
Do you quit too easily? Lazy people quit before the job is finished. Unfinished projects fill their lives: half-built cupboards, half-painted rooms, half-cleaned garages, half-finished papers, half-completed diets, and half-read books.
Do you make excuses? Lazy people can always find a reason not to work. If it’s cold outside, he might say, “You want me to get sick, going to work in this weather?” Or if it’s warm, “It’s way too nice to work!”
Whatever you do, don’t let laziness rob you of success.
ACTION: Which of the three success behaviors do you need to spend more time on? Working like an ant? Being honest? Or discarding laziness?